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Outgrowing pettiness in our political engagements

BY: Kobby Asmah

Over the past few weeks or so, this country has seen dramatic and tragic happenings which have sent the nation talking endlessly.

A mixed bag of actions and activities bordering on the removal of Mrs Charlotte Osei as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the nomination of Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa as the new Chairperson of the EC, the tragic death and burial of former Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur and the tantrums from his wife, Mrs Amissah Arthur, and the fears of the public about the success of the proposed double intake system of students for the senior high school (SHS) have all set the nation talking endlessly.

The bit about the Ghana Police Service exhibiting tendencies of brutalities against innocent citizens, coupled with the general economic difficulties, has sent the country wagging its tail nervously and at its talking best, especially from the political class. Some of the talks are needful while others are needless. But frankly, politicians oh politicians in this country can really talk and do little.

National woes

Strangely in this country, when in opposition, our politicians have all the answers to national woes but when in government, and they are faced with the realities of the time, the answers seem not forthcoming and a distance away.

But what is depressing is the inability of many of our politicians to speak to the facts. It appears political expediency and populism have taken the better part of our politicians. The goal has always been how to win the next elections and never to leave an enduring legacy that has the nation first in mind.


Our democracy must outgrow pettiness

The last time Mrs Charlotte Osei, a very competent professional, was nominated and subsequently appointed as the Chairperson of the election management body, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had a lot of qualms and did everything to influence Ghanaians that she was in to do the ‘dirty job’ for the then ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Interestingly, Mrs Osei, against all suspicion, supervised a crucial 2016 election which saw the NPP winning with an overwhelming mandate.

Today, Mrs Osei has been sacked from office for ‘procurement breaches’ and Mrs Jean Mensa, another very competent personality, nominated to the position.

Not surprisingly, the NDC are up in arms against the nomination and have already labelled charges relating to her neutrality, credibility and competence.

Payback time

Is it merely payback time, as there are threats from some leading members of the NDC to get rid of Mrs Mensah should an NDC regime take office?

When really is our democracy going to outgrow this pettiness? Who is speaking for the nation Ghana?

For Mrs Osei, before her appointment as Chairperson of the EC, she used to serve as Chairperson for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).

She served as NCCE boss from 2011 to 2015, providing education to Ghanaians on their civic rights and responsibilities, voter education and knowledge of Ghana’s Constitution in order to strengthen Ghana’s democracy, before being appointed as EC boss by the erstwhile Mahama administration. Her work at the NCCE involved managing 1,700 staff in over 200 offices nationwide.

Mrs Jean Mensa is currently the Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Ghana’s premier public policy institute, and Co-ordinator of the Ghana Political Parties Programme.

She is a lawyer by profession and has carved a niche for herself in the field of policy research and advocacy. She is also a thought-leader on governance and democratic issues in Ghana.

She has been involved in the development of policies such as the Presidential Transition Act of 2012; the Revised 1992 Constitution of Ghana (draft); the Political Parties Funding Bill and the Revised Political Parties Bill.

In 2010, she served as a commissioner of the 1992 Constitution Review Commission and is currently a member of the government committee tasked with preparing the Affirmative Action Bill.

My view is that both Mrs Osei and Mrs Mensah are two accomplished competent female stalwarts who have paid their dues to the good governance process of this country and they rather need to be celebrated and supported.

Legacy-minded leaders

Ghana has a huge development gap in all facets and catching up with the advanced countries, including South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, will not come easy if our political leaders do not outgrow pettiness in our political engagements but rather make every issue partisan. Our leaders must be legacy-minded and avoid excessive partisanship which ultimately becomes petty and unproductive. For this to happen, it will require our political leaders not only to think innovatively outside the box but most importantly be creative in solving the needs of today, as well as leave an enduring legacy that will stand the test of time for tomorrow’s generation. In so doing, we as a people need to speak to the facts and tell the truth no matter whose ox is gored.

Day in day out, the citizenry are losing confidence in the political class notwithstanding the promises upon promises dished out to them. Over the years, our leaders, especially the political class, have given the citizenry hope upon hope but the standard of living remains the same if not worse.

This is where our political class needs to ponder and give assurance to the citizenry that going forward, it will be nation first and all others secondary or tertiary. I am confident that once the nation eschews extreme partisanship in all national issues, it will be the beginning to a sustainable long-lasting development across the board.

Many people scored the John Mahama administration very low marks. But comparing President Akufo-Addo's regime to that of Mahama’s era, there are some who are also scoring the current regime very low marks. “So did we go or did we come?”

Clock ticking

We are continuously blaming the hardship of today on the failure of yesterday instead of learning useful lessons from the past for a better tomorrow. I have no doubt in my mind that President Akufo-Addo means so well for the country and if all his flagship programmes succeed, it will go a long way to transform the country. However, with almost two years in government, it appears to me that while the President is working so hard traversing the length and breadth of the country and even visiting a number of global communities all in the interest of the nation, some of his 110 ministers seem to be on holiday. The earlier they woke up to their responsibilities to the people, the better for the government. This is because the clock is ticking